Friday, July 20, 2012

Predators, Prey and Other Kinfolk: Growing Up in Polygamy by Dorothy Allred Solomon

Predators, Prey and Other Kinfolk:
Growing Up In Polygamy
Written by Dorothy Allred Solomon
I've only read one other memoir book written about the polygamist lifestyle. It was also written from the perspective of a woman who grew up in one branch/sect of fundamentalist Mormonism. I must admit that I find the subject utterly fascinating. I also have to admit that Solomon's book stood out to me, when it was compared to other books and documentaries on the same subject. Unlike other sources I've seen or read, Solomon did not experience first-hand many of the more commonly heard of abusive acts while growing up in a polygamist community. I am not saying that she didn't suffer from the circumstances of her childhood, and that her suffering was unique unto her, but she avoided some of the more commonly publicized abuses that you hear so much about.

Reading Solomon's account of her life, from childhood to adulthood, opened my eyes to some of the more appealing aspects of the polygamist lifestyle. Her rendition, at times, allowed me to see what about this life could attract so many devout followers. Solomon also pointed out many of the difficulties and hardships that go along with the practice of plural marriage, some known to me already, and others I'd not heard of before her book. But what really drew me into her story was what made her experience different from the one I read about in Elissa Wall's, Stolen Innocence. It was like looking at two sides of the same coin, many of the underlying issues were the same, but seen from dramatically different points of view.

I don't mean to romanticize this way of life. Celestial marriage, plural marriage, or polygamy is filled with many ugly truths, no matter what name it is called for. Many of its followers are drawn into it for all the wrong reasons and commit terrible acts in the name of their faith. Solomon's account reminded me of HBO's blockbuster drama series, Big Love. Both Solomon, and the writers of Big Love, made a point of showcasing the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of polygamy, whereas Wall mainly just wrote about the evils found hiding within the polygamist compounds.

I think that Solomon's book is important. I think she has very eloquently shown how even good people, with the best of intentions, cannot help but cause harm while living the polygamist lifestyle. She has beautifully shown how no amount of love can completely eradicate the abuse and neglect that so easily thrives in this type of environment, and how strongly attractive this way of life can be for predators.

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